20 Jun 2016

Life is Change

AT THE BEGINNING of the year, I had a clever plan. I would write a blog post at least once a month, preferably once every two weeks. I didn’t think that was too ambitious, and I had plenty of ideas.

But it was indeed too ambitious. I couldn’t make time to turn out even short pieces. I had too much on my plate, too many fires to light or to fight. I freaked out in March when I realized I wasn’t going to hit even that once-a-month target, and by April I realized it would remain hit or miss until at least May. I was so tired. To quote Bilbo:

I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.

What was special about May? It was my self-imposed deadline: time and, perhaps past due time to take a leap of faith.

Bilbo says he needs a holiday in that video clip. It wasn’t a holiday I needed. I needed a major change.

LEAVING THE LIBRARY
At the end of May, I left my part-time library job to return to full-time freelancing. While I deeply respect what public libraries aim to do and to deliver to their communities, I felt increasingly hemmed in by the hours I spent there.

Mission Library, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, library

Mission Library, my old stomping grounds

I’m a damn good librarian, but being a Maker is truly what I do best. I honestly feel both professions make other people’s lives at least a little better, but I could reach more people with my art and my wordcrafting.

Arguably, I’ve been working toward this for the last six years. (I’ve been wholly dependent on my freelance work in the past, but not for awhile.) Things came to a crescendo at IlluxCon last year: I realized I needed to stop waffling and get on with it. I played a metaphorical game of Tetris with all the bits of my life, juggling things into place until I could step off into thin air.

BUCKLING DOWN TO WORK
I launched with over a dozen scheduled projects and clients in queue for works large and small. It has taken a month to write my first blog post here because I’ve been pretty damn busy! By which I mean, for example…

Combined pics

Sampled details from recent works.

This is by no means everything. But when I was still splitting my time between home and the library, it would’ve taken me months to do all this, not a few short weeks. I had no idea how much mental bandwidth was being consumed by my other job. Nor did I realize how much creative energy had been dammed up waiting for a chance to break out.

Now I wake up in the morning and think “I will Make Wonderful Things today.”

And then I go do that.

Sandbox Wizard

LOOKING AHEAD
I have commissions, assignments, and plans for many things. An announcement I think could be A Pretty Big Deal is coming down the line, still confidential for now. (Watch the skies June 29th. More news later.)

Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out The New Normal for my own work, here in my sandbox. There are a lot of moving parts! For one, I intend to get this website humming, to share stuff about my projects and plans more regularly. To get pages updated, make things easier to navigate, and maybe even a spiff new look. Some webtech I need to learn from the ground up, because this hasn’t been one of my core competencies.

The blog will remain ad-free; I won’t be changing that. I’m not supported by affiliate links, paid advertising, nor by “guest blogs” that outsiders offer to write in my space to shill their products. (Yes, I’ve been asked.)

However, I am mulling over other ideas, and have been noodling on this question for a long time. It’s hard to squeeze in time for blog posts or experimental projects around my commissioned work. I’ve done coloring pages, started a graphic novel, toyed with short fiction chapbooks, mused on sculptural works, considered making videos about my work or to share techniques. That’s just the shortlist. In addition, I would like to do “behind the scenes” bits, show you what inspires me, or write more “Pictures Have Stories” because almost every darn picture I’ve ever done has a story associated with it.

Freyalise Supplicant, portraits, original art, fantasy, Magic the Gathering, MtG

What do these two pictures have in common? I can tell you later.

Wonderful things I want to do, to show you, to share with you. Exciting times! My paid commissions have to come first, but if you like what I’ve done in the past, and want to see more in the future—I may need a little help. We’ll have to talk about this later.

“Liz Danforth Is Making Wonderful Things.” I think that has a ring to it. Stay in touch.

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15 Responses to Life is Change

  1. SSCrompton says:

    I think this is great, great news and I wish you all the best success and happiness! Go (Dan)forth and CREATE!

  2. Stefan Jones says:

    I’ll tweet and post about this news in the usual suspect places!

    I really need to think hard about what paying creative work I can/should do in my (still a year or two off) soft retirement. Writing? Game stuff? The day to day grind of office work makes even thinking about that difficult.

    I haven’t felt a compulsion to do grown-up* coloring books myself, but the phenomena is interesting, and I only-half-joked about a Tunnels & Trolls coloring book a year or two ago. One with pencil mazes that double as adventure maps . . .

    * “Adult coloring books” sounds like something that would mostly call for flesh-tones.

    • Liz Danforth says:

      You’re not the first to make that observation, Stefan. And there are some which are exactly that (as I understand it #notthatIwouldknow).

  3. DSM says:

    [Insert Octavia Butler reference]

  4. Since the most Crompton of blogs can’t read my response, I shall post it here, by way of wishing That Danforth Lady all her well-deserved success:

    Let’s go crazy and predict the Mystery Player is Steven Spielberg and that we’ll soon see the New Adventures of Old Indiana Jones on Trollworld (“TRAPPED in a world he NEVER MADE, without his guns, without Nazis, and without bacon!”) coming to a theater near us.

    Or maybe not.

  5. David Orange says:

    I *love* ‘stories behind the art’ and seeing preliminary concept/sketch work and following the process from idea to finished piece/artwork. MORE PLEASE!

    • Liz Danforth says:

      I love telling these stories, David. When I was AGoH at NASFiC about 10 years ago, my guest of honor speech was a slideshow of paintings and the photographs and/or elements that I used in the making of the pieces. Sometimes it would be a ceramic jug from a snapshot I grabbed at a restaurant in Spain, or the seven eyes on a monstrous beast painted on the roof of a medieval chapel, or a bored bear at the zoo playing with a stick, or the casual tiredness of a Rennie and the shadows of her shawl at the end of a long day.

      I felt a little like I was showing people how I was cheating, or running the risk of explaining how a magic trick was done, but it was well-received. And I’d like to talk about all of these and more.

      • Unlike magic or mentalism, knowing the “how” doesn’t spoil our appreciation of such visual art. If anything, it helps us appreciate it more because so much of it is learned skills, the basis is raw talent and a unique way of seeing reality.

  6. Your talent and interests are so different from mine.but a little like our son Sam’s. I believe you and he met at a conference many years ago! Hard for me to imagine how you create such amazing pieces. I admire what you do. I had to set myself a schedule of blogging every 4 days, and I’ve managed to stick to it. Never easy, but I collect bits and pieces on the days in between so I’m partway there when the 4th day rolls around!

    • Liz Danforth says:

      The consistency of your post schedules has been remarkable, Catherine, and I’ve very much taken it as an inspiration and a goad. I don’t aspire to posting that often because I have too many other things I want to create (including written things) and we will only write so many words in our lifetimes. But working alone, I also value the sense of connection and community I take from being able to share part of my life here. We’ll see if I can maintain twice a month; that would be “often” in my book.

      I wish I could say I remember meeting Sam, although I suspect I know when it might have been: Origins convention, many years ago, when a number of cousins I remember as “some of the Zastrows” came to the show to meet up. I felt shy and a bit overwhelmed because I didn’t know what all the connections were. One of the things I admired most from reading your autobiography (and powerfully felt the lack of in my own life) was the sense of connection to one’s kin of blood and bond. I’d love to connect up again with him and with you sometime, and for now I’m grateful we can keep in touch via our respective blogs!

  7. buffalorick says:

    So where’s the “like” button. Or better yet, the “like a lot” button! 😉

    • Liz Danforth says:

      Taking time to say these few words, Rick, is the best “like a lot” button you could have tapped! Thanks! 🙂

  8. Change is scary, especially when it has the potential for impacting the financial bottom line. But it’s also good, as I guess you’re discovering. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what develops, and wish you all the luck in the world. (BTW, I love the idea of behind-the-scenes posts, process posts, etc. Those are always interesting!)